MOST entrepreneurs would probably shy away from venturing into the will-writing business because of its association with death.
But this did not deter Rockwills Corp Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Saw Leong Aun from starting a will-writing company back in 1995.
For the first three years we struggled to achieve some degree of success in the business because we needed to educate the public on the importance of having a will, Saw told StarBiz in Shah Alam, Selangor.
However, his perseverance has paid off. The company has grown by leaps and bounds into one of the most reputable will-writing companies in the country.
For this financial year ending Dec 31, 2003, Rockwills expects to increase its turnover by 30% to RM10mil and is confident of surpassing its annual record of 7,000 wills (written) last year to 10,000 by the end of this year.
Rockwills, the first professional will-writing company in the country, now has about 1,000 franchisees, located mainly in the Klang Valley and Penang.
We expect the number of franchisees to grow to 1,300 to 1,400 by the end of this year and hope to expand our franchise to more states and regionally eventually. But for the moment we will concentrate on the local market which is huge, he said.
The company has expanded its franchise to Singapore.
According to Saw, the companys survey showed that over 90% of Malaysians did not have a will.
The company has also tied up with several banks and insurance companies such as OCBC Bank, Southern Bank, Citibank and Prudential to provide internal will-writing services for the employees.
We also recently provided a translated version of the will (from English to Mandarin) to allow the Chinese community to better understand the implications of the will, said Saw.
On the reason for his venture into the will-writing business, Saw said: I was in the insurance business for about 10 years and getting involved in the will-writing business was a natural progression because I felt that there was a need for such a service locally.
Many people do not know that such a service is available now and can be done in the privacy of their own home or office and generally most people still think that only the older generation would need to make a will.
But thats not true. In fact, death can come to the young as well as the old so its important to have a will to ensure that your wishes are carried out upon your demise.
Saw also noted an interesting point: people are prepared to work so hard to accumulate wealth throughout their lives but do little to protect their finances and loved ones.
According to Saw, a will would enable family members and loved ones to have a lot less trouble in matters concerning the deceased's estate.
He said when a person died without leaving a will his assets would be frozen and this could only be undone if the High Court granted a probate or a letter of administration. This could be a long process.
Without a will, the wealth that one amasses over the years is subjected to the jurisdiction of the law and the courts will decide who should benefit.
By having a will, the time taken to execute the will would be faster to ensure that the deceased's last wishes are met with the least discomfort to loved ones and family members.
Saw said it was important that the will be professionally done.
Although a will can be done by yourself, it may be better to seek a will expert so that you can get proper advice and on-going support if you need to change or update it at any time, he said.
Saw said that there were also options in a will that the expert could provide to allow clients to make an informed decision on the will.
There may be things that you may not have considered when writing a will and its the job of the will experts to inform you of the possibilities and options. For instance, if a person has children under age of 18, a guardian may be designated in the will, said Saw.
In addition to distributing or transferring property, a will may have other functions like create a trust and designate a trustee to handle the estate (property left over after death) on behalf of children or others.
A will may also be used to name an executor (person appointed by the deceased) to handle the estate upon his death.
According to Saw, a person does not need to have a large estate to plan and prepare a will. Anyone who owns property, whether personal property, such as cash, stocks, jewellery or furniture, or real property such as land and/or a house, should prepare a will.
The will should be made when a person is legally competent (of sound mind and at least 18 years old). It should be prepared while its maker is in good health and free from emotional stress.
The cost of having a will written professionally can range from RM280 to RM5,000 depending on the requirements.
Saw has also written a book on Guide to Planning Your Will Effectively to give the community a better understanding of wills and the reasons for having a will.
He said that the next challenge was to form a strong and independent supporting division to complement Rockwills' existing services so that the company could be as efficient as possible, especially on matters such as probates.